It’s fair to say that last season for the Louisa Lions football team didn’t go as planned. Whether it was injuries, inexperience, or just plain old bad luck, the Lions limped to a 4-6 record, the most losses the team had accrued in a season since 2007.
Yet if there were a mantra to summarize the season appropriately, it would be this: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
The Lions managed to end last season on a high note, defeating both Powhatan and Western Albermale – both are teams who finished in the top three of the district – in close contests. The latter victory spoiled Western Albemarle’s bid for an undefeated season.
“I think it showed the kids that anyone can win on any given night,” Louisa head football coach Jon Meeks said.
Meeks, who is entering his third season at the helm of the team, has compiled an 11-10 record since taking over for former coach Mark Fischer. He’s hoping the momentum gathered at the end of last season will carry on with this year’s team. Already, Meeks said he has seen the impact it’s had on the team during the offseason.
“The huge confidence boost has carried over to this season,” Meeks said. “I’ve seen it in the weight room and the effort. We were playing around with the idea of opening the weight room in late February to mid-March to give the players a little break, and they did not want that at all. We’ve had it open since January 3.”
Still, Meeks is aware that enthusiasm only goes so far. The daunting task facing the Lions is replacing the abundant void left by graduated seniors. The Lions lost four starters on defense and seven on offense, and relying on the development of younger players is a key factor in the success of this year’s squad. The offensive line, in particular, will be filled with fresh faces, with four of the five starters from last year having graduated.
“We’ve got a lot of young talent coming up,” Meeks said. “We’ve got younger guys that are pushing our older guys for spots.”
Meeks isn’t just focused on maximizing his youthful talent in the huddle. The coach is handing the offensive play calling duties over to Will Patrick, a fourth year offensive coordinator for the team and former Louisa Lion.
“I have too much of a defensive mindset,” Meeks said. “I want to do on offense what I do on defense, which is beat a ‘beat-you-to-the-line’ type of smash mouth football. I think as an offensive coordinator you have to have a little more creativity. It’s going to be smash-mouth still, but it’s going to be a whole lot different. I have a lot of confidence in coach Patrick.”